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Employment Law: Workers' Compensation


Employment Law: Workers' Compensation Claims & Benefits

California law requires employers to carry workers' compensation insurance. Workers' compensation provides injured workers with medical care, disability benefits, vocational retraining, and death benefits; covered employees generally cannot sue their employer for job-related injuries. Here are some of the workers' compensation resources available at the Sacramento County Public Law Library.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

1.    Self Help            
2.    Legal Encyclopedias and Law Summaries
3.    Practice Guides 
4.    Forms
5.    Statutes, Regulations, and Court and Agency Decisions
6.    Websites
7.    Community Resources

1. SELF HELP

These books are highly regarded "plain English" explanations of the law, written by attorneys or other legal experts. They include basic legal discussion and procedures. Many of the titles include forms with instructions, and models of other documents that may be required. Some of the books have CDs that supplement the text and provide interactive forms. Unless otherwise indicated, these titles are located in our Self-Help collection. 

Information for employees:

California Workers' Comp: How to Take Charge When You're Injured on the Job KFC 592 .Z9B35
This Nolo Press self-help guide is intended to help workers pursue their own claims or assist their attorneys. It includes in-depth instructions, charts, and discussions of key cases.
Electronic Access: From any computer (Library or home) via the Legal Information Reference Center. Instructions are available on our website at bit.ly/saclaw-nolo-ebooks.

Workers' Compensation in California: A Guidebook for Injured Workers
KFC 592 .W67
This guidebook and related fact sheets and samples explain the workers' compensation system and the steps injured workers should take.
Electronic Access: via the Internet at  http://bit.ly/injured-workers-guidebook-DIR.

Your Rights in the Workplace KF 3455. Z9 R47  
This Nolo Press book discusses several employment topics. Chapter 12 discusses workers' compensation; other chapters cover issues such as wages and hours, privacy, discrimination, unemployment, and more. Not California-specific.
Electronic Access: From any computer (Library or home) via the Legal Information Reference Center. Instructions are available on our website at bit.ly/saclaw-nolo-ebooks. 

Information for employers:

The California Employer KFC 556 .A39L58 (General Collection)
Chapter 3 covers workers' compensation in some depth from the employer's perspective. This book is updated annually and includes a CD-ROM. 

The Employer's Legal Handbook KF 3455 .Z9S74  
Chapter 7 on "Health and Safety" includes a section on workers' compensation laws. Not California-specific.
Electronic Access: From any computer (Library or home) via the Legal Information Reference Center. Instructions are available on our website at bit.ly/saclaw-nolo-ebooks.

2. LEGAL ENCYCLOPEDIAS and LAW SUMMARIES

Legal encyclopedias provide a summary of law on specific topics, including workers' compensation law. These materials include references to applicable law.

California Jurisprudence (CalJur 3d) KFC 80 .C35 (Ready Reference)
Vol. 65 & 65A, Work Injury Compensation.
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

Witkin's Summary of California Law KFC 80 .W57 (Ready Reference)
Vol. 2, Workers' Compensation.
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

3. PRACTICE GUIDES

Although practice guides are written for attorneys, people representing themselves may also find these resources useful. These materials provide more detailed information than the self-help books. Many contain samples of documents and forms used in workers' compensation cases.

California Workers' Compensation Claims and Benefits KFC 592 .O27
This in-depth reference discusses cases, statutes and regulations arranged by topic; good for finding legal precedent on the particular issues in your case.
Electronic Access: http://www.judgeobrien.com/obrien/index.html

California Workers' Compensation Practice KFC 592 .S94
This Continuing Education of the Bar (CEB) practice guide provides comprehensive coverage and a good discussion of the appeals and rating processes.
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using OnLaw.

California Workers' Compensation Law and Practice (St. Clair)KFC 592 .B78
California Law of Employee Injuries and Worker's Compensation (Hanna)

KFC 592 .H33
Both are considered leading authorities and frequently cited in cases. These books present up-to-date, in-depth information and analysis.

Lawyer's Guide to the AMA Guides and California Worker's Compensation
KFC 592 .L39
Permanent disability is rated using the "objective" criteria used by the American Medical Association's (AMA) Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment (AMA Guides), Fifth Edition. This book helps workers' compensation lawyers with the use of these guides.

4. FORMS

Many of the forms needed in workers' compensation cases are standardized and can be found on the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) Division of Worker's Compensation (DWC) website. Other forms can be found in the practice guides listed above.

Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) 
www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/forms.html.
The DIR-DWC "Forms" page lists all official forms by subject. Most can be filled out online then printed. Many have accompanying samples. Guides and checklists can be found at bit.ly/IWguides-DIR (English) and bit.ly/IWguides-Spanish-DIR (Spanish).

5. MANUALS AND GUIDES

Workers' compensation law is affected by a variety of supplementary material, some of which is available on the DIR-DWC website.

Division of Workers' Compensation-Workers' Compensation Appeals Board Policy and Procedural Manual
This manual consists of policies and procedures that DWC and WCAB employees are required to follow. Claimants and employers will find the procedures useful in pursuing their cases.
Electronic Access: via the Internet at bit.ly/DWC-WCAB-policy-procedures-manual.

Guide to the Evaluation of Permanent Disability, 5th Ed. (American Medical Association)KFC 592 .G85
The 5th Edition of the American Medical Association (AMA) Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment is specifically incorporated into California Labor Code sections 4660 and 4660.1 for use in determining percentages of permanent disability.

Schedule for Rating Permanent Disabilities under Provisions of the Labor Code of the State of California
The current (2005) version and prior versions are available on the DIR web site, along with other DWC publications.
Electronic Access: via the Internet at www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/dwcrep.htm#4.

6. STATUTES, REGULATIONS, AND COURT AND AGENCY DECISIONS
Workers' compensation law is found in the California Labor Code, in the California Code of Regulations (Title 8), and in both agency and court decisions. In addition, several official manuals, guides, and schedules are used in the evaluation of claims. (See Section 5, above.) Many of these resources are available at the Law Library; some are available only via the Internet.

California Statutes
The California Labor Code, Section 3200 et. seq, governs workers' compensation in California. Both the Deerings and West annotated Labor Codes are available at the Law Library, and an unannotated version is available for free on the Internet.

Deering's California Labor Code Annotated KFC 30.5 .D4 P76 (Compact)

West's Annotated California Labor Code KFC 30 .W48 P76
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Law Code Search: Free Online Statutes   
The California State Legislature provides this free online source for California statutes. To access the Labor Code, click "Labor Code" in the list of codes to browse or select "Labor Code" from the drop-down menu at the top right to find a specific section.
Electronic Access: via the Internet at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes.xhtml

California Code of Regulations (CCR)
The California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 8, contains workers compensation regulations. The CCR is available at the Law Library in print. It is also available on the Internet from the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL). The regulations include adoption of various rate schedules, which can be accessed on the DIR website.

Barclays Official California Code of Regulations KFC 35 .A23 (Ready Reference)
Electronic Access:  On the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Code of Regulations (CCR): Free Online Regulations
The OAL provides this free online source (powered by WestlawNext) for California regulations. Click on "Title 8" or use the "Search" box to find a specific section.

Electronic Access: via the Internet at  govt.westlaw.com/calregs.
Introduction and information: www.oal.ca.gov/ccr.htm.

Workers' Compensation Laws of California KFC 592 .A3
This single-volume compilation includes applicable Labor Code sections, plus other relevant California statutes, California Code of Regulations sections, and United States code sections, and includes a detailed index.

Agency Decisions and Judicial Review
Workers' compensation appeals are heard by either a judge or a referee at the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB). The three-step appeals process begins with a Petition for Reconsideration to the WCAB in San Francisco. A WCAB panel decision is appealed to the California Court of Appeal via "writ of review;" the court grants or denies review. The appeals court's decision may be appealed to the California Supreme Court.

Workers' Compensation Appeals Board
WCAB decisions can be found in several places.

Workers Compensation Appeals Board Decisions and Petitions
www.dir.ca.gov/wcab/wcab_dars.htm
The DIR-DWC web site offers free online access to en banc decisions, significant panel decisions, and lists of cases pending on appellate grants by the California appellate courts or California Supreme Court.

In addition, two specialized reporters collect workers' compensation decisions:

California Compensation Cases (CCC) KFC 592 .C3 (Compact)
This annual reporter (with monthly supplements) provides "en banc and significant panel decisions" of the WCAB, relevant court opinions, and a digest of WCAB decisions denied judicial review. The annual volumes include a cumulative subject index to aid researchers. The Law Library collects Vol. 1 (1936) to present.

California Worker's Compensation Reporter (CWCR) KFC 592 .C2 (Compact)
This monthly bulletin reports "key developments in workers' compensation law," including decisions. Some content overlaps with California Compensation Cases. The Law Library collects Vol. 1 (1973) to present.

California Judicial Opinions
California Court of Appeal and California Supreme Court opinions are published in the standard California reporters:

California Supreme Court:
California Reports (Cal.), series 1-4 (ongoing) KFC 45 .A21 (Compact)
West's California Reporter (Cal.Rptr.), series 1-3 (ongoing) KFC 51 .W48 (Compact)

California Appellate courts:
California Appellate Reports (Cal. App.), series 1-4 (ongoing) KFC 48 .A212 (Compact)
West's California Reporter (Cal.Rptr.), series 1-3 (ongoing) KFC 51 .W48 (Compact)
Electronic Access:  California court decisions can be accessed on the Law Library's computers, using WestlawNext.

California Case Law: Free Online Cases

There are several websites offering free access to California case law. Perhaps the best combination of coverage, function, and ease of use is Google Scholar, which provides a dedicated search engine for California cases (1950-present). Other options include California Official Reports Public Access page (www.lexisnexis.com/clients/CACourts/) and Findlaw's California case search (www.findlaw.com/cacases/#dirsearch2).
Electronic Access: on the Internet at bit.ly/scholar-California-case-search.

7. WEB SITES

California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC)
www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/dwc_home_page.htm
In addition to the resources listed above, this website offers a wealth of information for injured workers, employers, and medical providers as well as attorneys and claims adjusters.

Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation
http://www.dir.ca.gov/CHSWC/chswc.html
The commission examines the health and safety and workers' compensation systems in California and recommends administrative or legislative modifications to improve their operation. The website includes studies and reports as well as information on preventing and managing injuries.

Worker's Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB)http://www.dir.ca.gov/WCAB/wcab.htm
WCAB is a seven-member judicial body appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate that reviews petitions for reconsideration of decisions by DWC administrative law judges. Its website includes information about filing petitions and information about board procedures in addition to the en banc and significant panel decisions discussed above.

Federal:
Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (U.S. Department of Labor)
www.dol.gov/ecab/welcome.html
Federal employees are covered by the Federal Employees' Compensation Act (5 USC §§ 8101–8193). This site provides information, forms, and links to laws, regulations, and the decisions of the Employees' Compensation Appeals Board (ECAB). 

8. COMMUNITY RESOURCES

Workers' compensation is a specialized legal field. To find attorneys who specialize in workers' compensation law, use an attorney directory or the Sacramento County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (www.sacbarlawyer.org/). For more information, see "Attorney Locators" on our website at www.saclaw.org/pages/attorney-finders.aspx.

DWC Information and Assistance Unit
916-928-3158 (recorded info line: 800-736-7401)
Injured workers can contact the Information & Assistance (I&A) Unit of their local Division of Workers' Compensation office. In addition, injured workers can attend a monthly workshop to learn about their rights and workers' compensation procedures.  

 

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS GUIDE, OR IF YOU NEED HELP FINDING OR USING THE MATERIALS LISTED, DON'T HESITATE TO ASK A REFERENCE LIBRARIAN.     

updated 9/14 kf